Britain vows to stick to its Olympic ban rule
The British Olympic Association is committed to defending its rule of a lifetime Olympic ban for any of its athletes previously suspended for doping, despite Lashawn Merritt's court victory Thursday.
Merritt's win in the Court of Arbitration for Sport has opened the way for cyclist David Millar and sprinter Dwain Chambers to challenge the BOA rule, which has been in place since 1992. But BOA chairman Colin Moynihan said the World Anti-Doping Agency supported the bylaw that bans athletes who have been suspended for doping from representing Britain at the games.
''It is tough but fair. There is no room for those who knowingly cheat for a place over someone who is clean,'' Moynihan said. ''I will do everything in my power to ensure the eligibility bylaw remains in place.''
Moynihan said 90 percent of British athletes supported the stance along with WADA, whose support he deemed ''critical.'' British sports minister Hugh Robertson also backed the BOA's position.
The BOA said it would be writing to the International Olympic Committee for extra support despite the ruling in Lausanne, Switzerland. CAS annulled the IOC rule that keeps athletes with a prior six-month-plus ban from competing at the next summer and winter games, allowing Merritt to defend his 400-meter title at the 2012 London Olympics.
The decision has left open the possibility that a number of athletes could appeal Olympic bans, including Millar and Chambers. Millar was suspended for two years for using EPO, and Chambers, a former European 100-meter champion, also served a two-year ban in the BALCO scandal.
Millar did not say if he would challenge the BOA's rules. The 34-year-old cyclist was hopeful Merritt's ruling would create one common international eligibility rule instead of separate national regulations as ''every doping case is different.''
''Whatever the sport may be ... each competitor should be subject to the same rules,'' Millar said in a statement. ''We expect fairness to be an integral part of the sports we watch, and yet fairness can be hard to find in the punishments of those athletes who make mistakes. A lifetime ban for a first offense does not encourage rehabilitation nor education, two things that are necessary for the future prevention of doping in sport.''
While BOA rules allow for appeals, Moynihan said it would not back down on any case.
''Millar is unquestionably reformed but the eligibility bylaw is already in place,'' Moynihan said. ''He is a reinstated athlete but he knew, like others, that he would be in breach of eligibility requirements. One mistake is different to those who knowingly take a cocktail of drugs to improve performance.''
Robertson said the eligibility rule was clear.
''I spend a lot of time these days with our Olympics teams, and if you ask any of them what their view is, they will absolutely, every man and woman, back that ban,'' Robertson said Thursday. ''Olympic athletes do not want people convicted of doping offenses back in their sport.''
AP Sports Writers John Leicester in Paris and Rob Harris in London contributed to this report.
Paul Logothetis can be reached at: www.twitter.com/PaulLogoAP